How Much does it Cost to Paint a Small Apartment?

The cost of painting a small apartment will come down to square footage, prep work, and the complexity of the paint job.

Several factors come into play when determining the cost of painting a small apartment, and we’ve detailed some of them here for you.

Cost of Painting if you DIY

When it’s time to slather your apartment with a coat of paint, whether you have just moved in, are moving out, or just looking to refresh the look, the cost is always at the forefront of the project.

Doing the painting yourself will automatically save you money rather than hiring a professional.

You are going to want to create a budget for your painting project.

There will be costs that you wouldn’t have to worry about if you were to hire a contractor. It may be more leg work for you, but it will help lower costs in the long run.

What supplies will you need in addition to the paint? Quite a few things, but don’t worry. It’s all easy to find, and you can shop around to get the best deal.

The supplies you will need to ensure you are fully prepared to include:

  • Drop cloths
  • Paint trays
  • Paint rollers
  • Paintbrushes
  • Painter’s tape

If you want to be extra cautious, or if you have sensitive skin or allergies, you may also want to invest in:

  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Respirator

If you are a renter, you want to make sure that you take extra precautions not to get paint on floors or other places that will cause you to lose your damage deposit.

Invest in good drop cloths, painter’s tape, and good paint so that your landlord does not require any changes or money collected when you move out.

We’ve mentioned getting the best deal on items, but you don’t want to skimp on certain supplies, such as a paintbrush or painter’s tape.

If you buy a cheap brush or roller, you may risk having bristles or fluff left behind on the walls, adding bumps and blemishes to the paint.

If you go for a lesser quality painter’s tape, you could risk the paint bleeding through. It may also only rip off partially, making your job more difficult.

If it sticks too much, you could risk tearing the paint underneath the tape off the wall or floorboard.

Regardless of what you spend on your supplies, the most expensive part will be the paint and primer.

You will want to invest in a good quality primer and paint so that you are satisfied with the result of your hard work.

A rough estimate of what each item could cost at the average home renovation store such as Home Depot, Ace Hardware, or Menards is as follows:

  • Drop cloths: 15 USD
  • Paint trays: 5 USD
  • Roller cover: 10 USD
  • Roller frame: 7 USD
  • Paintbrushes: 10 USD
  • Painter’s tape: 6 USD
  • Painting gloves: 6 USD
  • Goggles: 15 USD
  • Painting mask: 20 USD
  • Paint: 35 USD

There are a couple of items on this list that aren’t necessary, but it’s all there in case you want to be prepared.

The amount of paint you use will depend on the size of the room you are painting and the color you want to use. If you want to cover a different color of paint, it will also factor into the cost.

Going on the basis that most gallons of paint can cover up to 400 square feet, and the average apartment is around 950 square feet in size, you are going to need anywhere between two to four gallons of paint.

With these calculations, you can estimate that the cost of painting a small apartment will be about 200 – 400 USD.

Of course, this number is calculated on the assumption that you will be buying all of the supplies listed above.

If you are covering a dirty, dark, or bright wall, you will want to make sure you add primer to your list, which will be roughly 100 USD to add to your overall cost.

The cost of the painting will go up if your apartment is larger than 950 square feet and if you choose to use expensive paint and more costly supplies.

These costs may seem overwhelming, but they are significantly lower than if you were to hire someone to paint your apartment for you.

And once you buy the painting supplies, they are yours forever and will lower the costs of your next DIY painting project.

Test the Paint Out

Do not be intimidated by the idea of painting your apartment yourself. Many painting tutorials and articles will tell you everything you need to know about painting, from how to tape a wall to edge in corners.

Take the time to do your research, and you will be surprised at the painter you turn out to be.

When painting, you need to remember that any color that does not turn out as you hoped can always be redone.

If you are unsure of a color, you can always ask the store to mix up a small batch for you to take home to test on your wall.

Painting a small patch of the wall and allowing the paint to dry will save you from painting an entire wall or room, only to find out that it isn’t to your liking.

It is optimal to have the paint sit for 24 hours so you can see what it looks like at all times of the day and night, as the hue will change as the brightness of the day changes.

Matching your paint to the color of your furniture, rugs, decor, etc., needs to be a consideration.

Stick to a color pallet that pulls the small details out of the room and ties everything together. This is only a suggestion since your personal taste should take priority.

Cost of Painting If You Hire a Professional

If you are certain that you do not have the time, skill, or patience to paint your apartment yourself, then you will want to hire a professional painter to do the painting for you.

Painting companies vary greatly in pricing. There are painting companies that offer quality work for all price ranges, so it is worth shopping around.

You want to go with a reputable painting company, so your money (as good a deal as it may be) is not going to waste.

The national average for hiring a painting company is based on square footage, so if your apartment is more than 900 square feet, you will want to add to the total given below.

The average cost of painting is about 3.50 USD per square foot but can range anywhere from 2 – 6 USD per square foot.

If you have a smaller apartment, say 700 square feet, your average cost for hiring a painter will be about 2,400 USD on the mid-scale range and 1,500 USD on the lower end.

Painters usually charge per square foot rather than on their hours so they can charge more accurately.

Keep in mind that there are also painters that are willing to do jobs for a lesser price in their spare time for extra cash.

It’s worth it to look up student painters or painters for hire ads as well. Be wary if they do not offer recommendations.

Cost Per Square Foot When You DIY

When you are estimating your cost for DIY painting, you will take into account the surface area, the coverage required, types of surfaces painted, as well as any touch-ups you may need to complete.

If you need to fill holes in the walls, you will need to add caulking and sandpaper to your list and costs.

If there are substances that need to be painted over, such as caulking, you will need to calculate two coats of paint.

If the paint you choose covers 200 – 400 square feet per one gallon, such as a Behr Paint and Primer in One, then you need to estimate that you will need 2 – 4 gallons.

When estimating the cost per square foot, factor in high walls, nooks, and crannies such as divots in walls that are to be painted, and walls of a stairwell are much higher, and you will need to factor that in when coming up with a budget.

When you are buying paint, keep in mind that flat and glossy paint are very different, both in appearance and in ease of cleaning.

For example, high gloss paint is easy to wipe down, while flat paints, especially darker colors, mark easily and are more difficult to clean off.

If you are painting a new wall, such as fresh drywall that has never been painted, this will soak up more paint.

So, you will need to factor in more coats, which could be as many as three or two coats of paint and one coat of primer.

Buying vs. Renting Painting Supplies

If you are really looking to save money on painting supplies and do not plan on painting again any time soon, consider renting the painting supplies instead.

Renting painting supplies is usually for larger jobs.

However, if you are doing a small job with hard-to-reach places or high walls, you may want to look into renting some of the equipment from a home renovations store instead of purchasing them.

Shop Bargains

One store’s trash is your bargain when it comes to painting supplies. There is a good chance that you will be able to save money if you shop around for sales or discount items.

These could be products that are on sale due to damage, such as opened packages, returned items out of the box, or dented paint cans.

It is also worth noting that some websites, such as Facebook, Craigslist, etc., may have paint and supplies for sale by people who buy too much.

If you are willing to gamble on the color of paint you get and aren’t too picky on the brand, this is a great way to get it for a good deal or even for free.

People take leftover paint to hazardous waste facilities, which is a good place to check out for extra paint.

Some facilities will even set the can with substantial amounts of paint to the side for those who ask first. 

Final Word

While several things will come into play when determining the cost of painting a small apartment, it all depends on the aspects of the apartment layout, the paint you choose, and the paint and material you are covering up.

Whether you decide to paint the apartment yourself or hire a professional, shop around and look for the best price that you can afford without sacrificing quality. 

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